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Neighbors Say Racial And Gang Tensions Are Fueling Violence In West Pullman, And Ald. Anthony Beale Has A Plan For Police To Step In

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For the past few months, we've tracked and investigated violence in the West Pullman neighborhood - where an off-duty Chicago firefighter was shot over the weekend in a mass shooting that also wounded a 15-year-old girl and left a woman dead.

People living and working in the area say gangs and racial tension are fueling the trouble. So CBS 2's Tara Molina hit the streets to find out what can be done to put an end to it – and she found a possible solution.

A "cop house," that's what Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) calls the home base for Chicago Police officers and Cook County Sheriff's deputies who he said is coming to the neighborhood soon - following the shooting Saturday night and continued targeted violence spanning months.

"I'm in the battle with them," Beale said.

Beale spoke out Monday following the mass shooting two nights before on Kensington Avenue near Prairie Avenue. Schenia Smith, 42, was killed, and five others were hurt while walking to their cars after a birthday party – including off-duty firefighter Timothy Eiland, 32, who was shot in the face.

The shooting follows crimes we've tracked in the area since February, when car bombs injured several residents in a building also Kensington Avenue.

"There's some racial tensions here," said building owner Michael Taylor.

It is all happening one stretch of Kensington Avenue – a short street that runs in two pieces between Michigan Avenue and the Bishop Ford Freeway.

"It's just a small group of people who are trying to send a message," Taylor said.

Beale told Molina over the phone nothing has changed and no one from the city and stepped up or stepped in to help what he and others call targeted violence against Black people, involving local gangs. This is something the alderman acknowledged…

"It's some racial and gang tension going back and forth - you know, you have the Latino area where you have gangs in that area, and then on the other side of the divide, you have African-American," Beale said.

He said the violence problem in the area is directly related to decisions made within the Chicago Police Department.

"I'm down over 120 officers because the Strategic Task Force that has been put together has taken officers out of the districts - and this is the direct reflection of that," Beale said.

We asked police about that. There was no response.

As for what can be done in the area, for now, the alderman said there are plans to get a home base in this neighborhood for law enforcement.

"We can get both communities to understand that the house in the middle that's bringing everybody together - working with the police, working with the Sheriff's department - and hopefully, we can combat some of this tension that's going back and forth," Beale said.

Chicago Police said no one was in custody in the mass shooting over the weekend, and there were no immediate updates on their investigation.

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